Sunday, October 30

Return to Seven Valleys

I'm back to reading the Seven Valleys, after finally finishing Summons of the Lord of Hosts (this is for my daily readings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh). It's always kind of been the Scripture that makes the most sense to me - with the greatest potential of application to my own life.

So when Charlotte accepted my offer to do a little theatrical activity for her 9-10-year-old class at Bahá'í Sunday school, I decided to have them (6-7 girls) do skits about "seeing the end in the beginning". This has always been one of my favorite spiritual concepts to contemplate (followed of course by contemplations of "see neither beginning nor end, and witness neither "first" nor "last." Nay rather... see not even 'neither first nor last'"). And they all did so well!!

Later today I was thinking about one of my recurring complaints about life: I don't receive enough tests and trials. I remember thinking this back in high school, and only the year I moved to the US was really overwhelmingly trying. In the Valley of Unity, the believer/seeker recognizes all things as shining with a brightness from a single source - all of Creation and all things beyond have no noteworthy distinction: they all reflect the light of God to their respective potential degree (as a red globe will shine red, a crystal will make like a fire, a mirror will show the whole 'disk' of the sun, and simple objects will have colors according to their nature). This helped me further embrace my life condition (I've been gradually coming to terms with not recognizing direct answers to my prayers for afflictions) by acknowledging that blessings and tests are one and the same: opportunities to come closer to the presence of my God.

Tuesday, October 25


First off, THE FUGEES' NEW SINGLE IS OUT! iz called Take it Easy.

That said, it's been interesting catching up with a variety of people's weblogs. The list is getting long, 'cause I'm a fan of a few too many people to be on top of it all, but with my new technique of getting weblo posts as e-mails (via RSS feeds), I'm catching up with a lot of lives! It's such a blessings to be in touch with so many inspiring lives!

To mention one, Suzanne's blog has some beautiful insights, which are particularly dear to me, besides my love for her, because of her various notes on mothering the adorable Amia. I was especially connecting to the expression of how experience and reflection weave together in a life that focuses on those years required to establish a solid foundation for the generation to come. In other words, Suzanne talks about things she does with Amia, then explains some of the contemplations and decisions they provoke.

Leigh has been the ultimate inspiration to me, as I had hoped when I offered to move in with my sister and assist with her up-bringing. Of course, as you have certainly heard, life with children has a tendency to slow things down. Indeed, I am involved in far fewer activities now than I had been just before moving to Quebec. It's more of a mentality, though. Even if I had as many things to do, any time I am with Leigh, such matters become less than secondary: if she "lets" me do them, I will, otherwise, oh well! What can I do with a crying baby other than take care of her? There's no moving onto other things!

Another interesting experience: living here, I'm in Charlotte's domain - as my sister, she seems to have taken on a variety of projects besides her all-important research in microbiology ("Values Workshops" for babies and parents, Baha'i student association, teaching Baha'i Sunday school, etc.) Usually I spend most of my time and efforts on endeavors of my own initiative. Here, it's mostly working under the purview of Charlotte's supervision. This takes a different set of skills and qualities than I am used to.

This is yet another one among inummerable ways in which this chapter of my life is shifting most things in my psyche. I just wish to reiterate how grateful I am. This is truly a beautiful life. I pray that I may always have the strength to live up to the challenges that God graciously sets before me.

I miss Shanghai (though I've never been there...)

Saturday, October 22

MOOT conference in Hamilton

Last weekend I accompanied Charlotte and her whole biochemistry team to a MOOT conference in Hamilton, just SW of Toronto (I can't remember what the initials are for - it's a moot point anyway...) So below you will get a tour of MacMaster university.

I accompanied Charlotte so that she could attend talks, etc., while I watched Leigh - this is from the day we arrived:

Leigh, of course, was the center of all attention:

This is quite a fun team - it was fun hanging out with them,

they create their own atmosphere, quite convivial,

until I divert their attention to this good ol' camera:

Leigh and I took a walk through the campus:

I had fun with my camera:

I wasn't the only one having fun:

I wasn't the only one taking pictures:

I wasn't the only ninja:

This is my favorite picture of the weekend:

This is where Leigh and I took a rest from all the picture-taking:

Our two drivers, Pierre-Yves and Sebastien, on their way back to the van from watching a bluejay: Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 19

US vacation 10/6 - 10/14

Here begins a short accound of a visit to the US: Charlotte and her family - Guy-Claude, Andre, Leigh and uncle danio left Quebec, Canada on October 6 for 10 days to visit Richmond, Virginia. First picture: the family plus my parents:

We stopped in Montreal to visit Bill and Judith Hatcher in their beautiful apartment - the greatest breakfast awaited us in the morning!

View from their balcony:

Group picture:

On the Road agayin!

It was a long road, but we had a comfy van:

Occupying ourselves during fuel stops:

Then we spent the night at Sam's home in Baltimore:

We saw his whole family - Molly and Maia (Maia and Andre had a wonderful time together):

I even saw my good pal Adarsh!

Then I ran into Sheila, her children, her friend from Seattle; I also talked to Nina and Omid via Adarsh's cellphone.

We did eventually get to Richmond. I was hoping to visit my old workplace at LandAmerica to see some of my friends - Nik, Carleen, Tanya, Annie, Jopassa, Keith, Emily, Steve, etc. but we arrived too late. So we went straight to Silent Dinner at Willow Lawn mall - a weekly meeting place for the deph and dumb. There we met Natalie, a close friend of Charlotte's:

Andre is a cutie!

I stayed at the Falconer home, watched "The Interpreter" with Midge and Rob. I rested a little, and on Saturday, the day after our arrival, I had a chance to visit Mishkin and Christian and the former's family. This is a picture of my chasing the children with the camera: Posted by Picasa

and one with the lot of us:

Another pic of Natalie & Charlotte - on the occasion of a fundraiser for a new Baha'i House of Worship to be built in Santiago, Chile:

Traveling is tiring:

but family time is so very precious - this is at my very favorite cafe just down the street from my parents' home, called Jumping J's Java:

And now, for the biggest event of our stay: a family reunion with my grandmother, her two sons and daughter (my mommy), along with their respective families, a gathering that hasn't seen its like in 6-7 years!

The silly version of the group:

Charlotte and I were dying to go shopping at Elwood Thompson, a natural/health food store. There we met Henriette, who bought us breakfast!

Just before leaving, Midge prepared a classic family dinner for the whole group, which we enjoyed in a most convivial atmosphere around a well-garnished table:

In the background of the next picture, you'll see part of a lake. Mark (front right) took Andre� and I on a boat to teach us some fishing:

Leigh, the star of the trip:

Charlotte, the center of it all:

me, the danio:

Packing for the way back was a different story...

We stayed at Sam's in Baltimore again on our way back to Quebec, where I caught Andre and Maya playing again together. It was so wonderful watching two children play so easily without even speaking the same language! (Andre speaks only French - maybe a tad bit of English) Posted by Picasa